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Green: Appreciating Kurt Warner

It’s said that we have trouble appreciating what we have until it is gone.

Well, it took me a while, but I’ve come to appreciate Kurt Warner and what he brings to the Arizona Cardinals.

Don’t get me wrong – I never disliked the guy. I knew he was a great QB and an even better person off the field. But, I didn’t think he could get the team to a Super Bowl and thus, I saw no point in continuing forward with the aging veteran instead of trying to find a younger, long-term replacement.

Aside from the fact that I was wrong about the Super Bowl, where I really messed up was failing to understand – and enjoy – what the Cardinals had at the QB position.

What the Cardinals have is one of the all-time greats, a player who (along with Ken Whisenhunt) is directly responsible for the team’s transformation from a laughingstock to Super Bowl contender.

Over the last four games Warner has done something only the legendary Johnny Unitas did before, and that’s have a QB rating over 120 in four straight games. Now, I’m not going to sit here and try to explain the QB rating system since it is as convoluted as the BCS computer but I will tell you that, having watched each game, Warner is playing as good as any QB in league, and probably as good as any QB can possibly play.

Over the four games: 261 yards and five touchdowns. 340 yards and two touchdowns. 203 yards and two touchdowns (in one half of football). 285 yards and three touchdowns.

Those are the kind of numbers you see in a video game, not an NFL field, but that’s exactly what we are being treated to here in Arizona. And that’s what I’ve come to appreciate.

Matt Leinart. Josh McCown. John Navarre. Shaun King. Jeff Blake. Jake Plummer. Stoney Case. Kent Graham. Boomer Esiason. Dave Krieg. Jay Schroeder. Steve Beuerlein.

Those are the names of the QBs that preceded Warner and, quite frankly, it’s not a who’s who of the quarterback elite. In fact, one could argue it is one of the sorriest lists of QBs you will ever see for a team over a stretch of time, and possibly THE reason why the Cardinals were the epitome of failure for the majority of their time in the desert.

But then Kurt Warner showed up, fresh off a rough season with the Giants. Dennis Green, the Cardinals’ coach at the time, said they had looked over the game film and decided Kurt was playing well, but he just was not getting much help. Turns out Denny was right, though he did not last long enough to reap the benefits.

It was not until Whisenhunt took over that Warner got his chance, and even then it took an injury to Matt Leinart to let Kurt become “the guy.” Warner took over and played great, then won the QB competition the following summer and the rest, as they say, is history.

Only, the history does not have to be in the past. Kurt Warner is rewriting Cardinals history with every game and, with a QB rating over 120 Monday night, he would re-write the NFL record books again.

There is no guarantee that we will get to watch # 13 sling darts all over the field much longer. He has one more year left on his contract after this one, but with every injury bringing talk of retirement, it would be wise to sit back and really appreciate what he is doing on the field because, while we are witnessing greatness right now, it could all be gone tomorrow.

Adam can be reached with your questions and comments by e-mail here.